Recent visa liberalization in Asia has pushed the UK passport down to 4th place with British citizens able to access 177 countries visa-free. The US continues to hold onto 5th place with 176 countries. Hugh Morshead, Executive Committee Member of investment migration firm Henley & Partners, say President Trump’s foreign policies have not yet had a negative impact on the country’s passport power but this may change. “States whose citizens are barred from the US are likely to implement reciprocal measures. We can also expect to see a dramatic decline in the relative strength of the UK passport in 2019 when Brexit comes into effect.”
Japan and Singapore rose to the top of the Henley Passport Index after Uzbekistan lifted visa requirements in early February. Dr. Parag Khanna, Senior Fellow at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore, says both states are identified as peaceful commercial powers. “Japan has long been one of the world’s leading capital exporters, and Singapore is now the major conduit for outbound Asian investment. We can certainly expect more Asian powers to use the combination of commercial expansionism and reciprocal entry policies to climb the index in future.”
The UAE continues to be a leading example of travel freedom in the Middle East, climbing an impressive 34 positions on the Henley Passport Index over the past decade to secure 27th place overall, and bring it closer to regional leader Israel. Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan remain at the bottom of the index, each still only able to access 30 or fewer countries visa-free.
Morshead says there are a growing number of countries — especially outside the West — opening up their borders to strategic partners. “For those looking to improve their global mobility, connectivity, and access with a stronger passport, alternative citizenship is the most effective solution. Demand for citizenship-by-investment programs is growing rapidly as talented individuals seek to transcend the limitations imposed on them by their passports.”